Building Detroit Futures (BDF) is revitalizing neighborhoods by renovating vacant houses and putting Detroit residents to work. BDF, Inc. acquires and rehabilitates homes in serious need of repair from the Detroit Land Bank Authority for a nominal cost. The program plans to enlist residents of Detroit into union pre-apprenticeship training programs introducing them to the skilled trades, pairing trainees with contractors, and empowering the trainees to rebuild the city’s neighborhoods. At the end of the program trainees will be connected with a union apprenticeship, with the ultimate goals of modernizing housing stock (and keeping it affordable) and creating a stronger local workforce for construction projects in the city.
There are over 78,000 buildings within Detroit that are dilapidated or at risk of becoming so—this means that 30% of the city’s structures are categorized as blighted. The city of Detroit is on a mission to eradicate widespread areas of blight. Detroit residents are too familiar with the presence of vacant homes and the instability, security risks, and safety risks that these blighted homes present.
“The most obvious impact made by Building Detroit Futures is the added stability generated from the removal of blight from a block,” said David Eubanks an Investment Officer with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust who works closely with BDF through the Detroit Neighborhood Home Repair Program. “The blocks that we’re working in, they have maybe two to three some cases four homes that are vacant or in extreme state of dilapidation. I think just being able to ride down a block and to be able to see all the homes are well maintained is something that the residents can be proud of.”
The newly renovated homes also serve the community by increasing property values.
“The other more tangible benefits include increases in property value that result from removing blight and the added comfort that comes from the aesthetic of a finished home,” said Mr. Eubanks. “The impact that has on the neighborhood increases property values and the newly rehabbed homes sell for prices that haven’t been seen in the city for a couple of years. As a result of that the value of the entire neighborhood goes up.”
Homes renovated by Building Detroit Futures as part of the Detroit Neighborhood Home Repair Program are marketed toward Detroit residents at or below 80% of the area median income. Lina Cammon, a 75 year old middle and elementary school teacher and lifelong Detroit resident, became the first to purchase and move into a rehabbed home made available under the Detroit Neighborhood Home Repair Program.
“I feel in my element and safe here,” said Ms. Cammon. “I’m getting to know my immediate neighbors and I feel we have much in common and are committed to the community. I’m optimistic about the resurgence of our neighborhood and I want to be a part of it.”